May 2008

Bush apologizes over US soldier’s Quran shooting

President Bush has apologized to Iraq’s prime minister for an American sniper’s shooting of a Quran, and the Iraqi government called on U.S. military commanders to educate their soldiers to respect local religious beliefs.

One of a growing list of things that Bush and Clinton have in common is their love of apologizing for stuff they’re not to blame for. In Clinton’s case, slavery, and in Bush’s case the Koran shooting. Indeed, Bush likes apologizing to Muslims almost as much as Clinton liked apologizing to black people. Maybe that’s why Muslims are “the new black man.”

As for the offending soldier: doesn’t he know that you don’t play target practice with the Koran? The Koran plays target practice with you!

And that’s what makes the Koran-shooting incident so controversial. I’m sure his disciplining officer will set him straight on that point.

While we’re apologizing, our Iraqi proteges are already threatening us:

[Prime Minister Nouri] Al-Maliki’s office said the Iraqi Cabinet called on Tuesday for the “severest” punishment against the sniper and warned of “grave consequences” if similarly offensive actions were committed in the future.…On Tuesday, Khalaf al-Elyan, a senior Sunni Arab lawmaker, said the sniper must stand trial, preferably in Baghdad.

Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, met with tribal leaders in Radwaniyah on Sunday to apologize while another American officer kissed a copy of the Quran before presenting it to the chiefs.

On Monday, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, paid visits to al-Maliki as well as Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, both of whom are Sunni Arabs.

Al-Hashemi, the top Sunni Arab in the government, told Austin that “the feelings of bitterness and anger cannot be eased unless there is a deterrent punishment and real guarantees” such an incident won’t be repeated, according to a statement from his office.

Al-Hashemi expressed his appreciation for the visit but asked for a written apology from the U.S. military.

The vice president’s Iraqi Islamic Party also issued a tough statement saying an apology alone was not enough and the U.S. military should impose the “severest punishment” on the soldier.

Congress Urged to Pay More Attention to Suffering in Kosovo

The U.S. Congress should send observation teams to Kosovo to witness first-hand the deplorable plight of minorities whose suffering over the past six years remains largely ignored by the world, according to a proposition delivered this week by a spokeswoman for the Serbian government.

Dr. Sanda Raskovic Ivic, a psychiatrist by profession, is the new head of the Kosovo-Metohija Coordination Center, a non-partisan panel in charge of pooling state, political and social resources to solve problems in the troubled province…Kosovo…has been the site of ethnic cleansing of minority groups for several years, with ethnic Albanians, most of them Muslim, targeting Serbs, Muslim Slavs, Turks, Roma (gypsies) and Ashkali.

Since June 1999, Kosovo has been governed by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) under the authority of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244. The United Nations recently authorized final talks on the status and future of the troubled province. Yet even with this international presence, including the stationing of 7,000 troops, ethnic cleansing and oppression of minorities continues, Raskovic Ivic said. (Click here to view maps of ethnic population changes. Powerpoint required.)

She was in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss Kosovo’s status with members of Congress and the Bush administration’s National Security Council. The province should have “more than autonomy, less than independence,” according to Raskovic Ivic, who called this a “fair compromise” that will not include “victors and vanquished, winners and losers.”

Accompanied by diplomatic personnel, Raskovic Ivic told Cybercast News Service that she was in the U.S. “to convey the real situation of minorities,” in Kosovo. “Basic human rights are breached and there is no freedom of movement,” she said. “The intimidation and shootings continue.”

Schools in minority enclaves are overcrowded, Raskovic Ivic said, but students cannot attend other schools because of attempted hijackings of school buses, beatings and harassment.

Serbs are also said to be unwelcome at the majority of hospitals now run by ethnic Albanians, she said. “Some pregnant women who went to Albanian-run hospitals to give birth did not return alive.”

Property rights of minorities are reported to be almost non-existent…”UNMIK (The United Nations Mission in Kosovo) has made over 70,000 decisions in favor of Serb property rights, yet there is no enforcement,” said Raskovic Ivic. “Thousands of more claims are waiting to be processed.”

Raskovic Ivic is also pushing for an effective security package to be implemented in the region, to address organized crime and potential terrorism.

“When a mobster is arrested he wraps himself in the Albanian flag,” said Raskovic Ivic. “Then riots ensue amid complaints of human rights violations.”

Raskovic Ivic also pointed to the heroin and cocaine that pass through the region. Kosovo is right in the middle of the narco-trafficking path that begins in Afghanistan and after Kosovo, extends to Western Europe and the United States.

Raskovic Ivic confirmed information that Cybercast News Service received last month, alleging that there are three major heroin laboratories operating in Kosovo, under protection of paramilitary soldiers or former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The information was received from the International Strategic Studies Institute in Washington, D.C.

“There are a smaller number of labs working undercover as well, but they are all networked together,” Raskovic Ivic said. “Like a cancer, these things are going to spread. Everyone is turning a blind eye to this.”

Raskovic Ivic expressed concern over the law enforcement follow-up to the March 2004 attacks on churches in Kosovo. Albanian mobs allegedly attacked and destroyed 34 churches, monasteries and bishop residences. Since international forces took power in 1999, approximately 150 church properties have been attacked…

“There have been no indictments, even though 23 of the perpetrators were caught on film,” she said. Under pressure from the international community, the 23 were fired from their jobs.

Those who promote independence for Kosovo don’t realize that the violence and lawlessness will not stop with that change in status, she said. U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) are among the American politicians supporting independence for Kosovo, she said.

Despite the ongoing crisis, Raskovic Ivic complained that the international community remains apathetic…”No one even notices [Kosovo minorities’] suffering,” she added. “If you suffer and no one notices, no one cares. It is a terrible thing.”

And last week we heard from another human rights advocate:

Maria Lina Veca: Western Kosovo Story is a Lie

“Spending time with Kosovo Serbs who live in the ghettos, I realized the facts were inverted and that those who are considered to be the culprits are in fact the victims, while the designated victims are the culprits”, said Italian reporter in the interview given to Glas Javnosti.

Maria Lina Veca is an Italian journalist, reporter and author who visited Kosovo province Serbs 27 times during the last eight years. She has written three books and made two documentaries about the life of Kosovo Serbs after US-led NATO seized the southern Serbian province in 1999. Veca is the President of the humanitarian organization RinascereOnlus which provides aid for the Serbian children walled off in the Kosovo-Metohija enclaves.

Q: How were your views about the events in Kosovo-Metohija received in Italy?

MLV: This is a taboo subject, even today. Back then, my colleagues told me that those who speak like I ought to be sent to the Hague.

Q: Has Italy violated its own Constitution by the recognition of Kosovo independence?

MLV: By recognizing Kosovo Italy has first and foremost violated the international law. Our Parliament did not recognize Kosovo independence, and at the moment our government recognized Kosovo it was only a technical government, so it could in no way reach a decision on such an issue as recognition of the state.

Q: Why did Italy recognize Kosovo?

MLV: Because it is a United States’ colony.

Q: You stated on several occasions that the recognition of Kosovo independence is a recognition of the mafia state…

MLV: Testimony of the Italian General Fabio Mini, who was a Commander of the International KFOR troops in 2002/2003 in Kosovo-Metohija is the best evidence for that. A day after the secession of Kosovo, he said that the mafia state is being created in Kosovo and Metohija. He revealed to Corriere della Sera that Hashim Thaci had killed by his own hands 28 Albanians from the late Ibrahim Rugova’s party and many Serbs, and said that such a man cannot possibly be the head of a state… Creation of this “state” has given a blessing to the establishing of the mafia state in the midst of Europe. And the Europe is yet to learn what it had done.

Q: Why did you decide to dedicate so much time to Kosovo-Metohija, or rather to Serbs?

MLV: As a journalist, I visited Kosovo-Metohija — the town of Pec, for the first time in December 1999. I realized everything is there, except for the Serbs. When I asked where are the Serbs, I was told they live in the enclaves and that they can’t take me there because it is too dangerous. I requested from the Pristina Carabinieri Command to be taken to the enclaves. They were surprised I was interested in the Serbs, but they took me first to Vitina, then to Partes, Cernica, Strpce…

I have seen the inhumane living conditions, that Serbs live like in concentration camps. I found it incredible that the Western media — actually no-one — talks about this. I realized the facts were inverted and that those who are considered to be the culprits are, in fact, the victims, while the designated victims are the culprits. This is something I simply couldn’t be silent about, and that’s when I wrote the first book “Has Kosovo been Lost?”. I would’ve done the same for any nation on earth.

Q: How is this work of yours received in Italy? Did it help make ordinary Italians better understand what is happening with the Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija?

MLV: They understood that very well from the contacts with children [whom Veca’s program brought to Italy] and they are extremely worried, they are now following the events in Kosovo-Metohija with fear. All the families that received the children had no prior knowledge about their life in Kosovo-Metohija. They took them in as if they were the children from Africa, and it took time to explain those children are not lacking in anything except for freedom—this is what they don’t have. I consider a greatest success the fact that these families understood this and that now each of the families carries the information which spreads mouth-to-mouth…

And here’s the putz who brought on this reality for the non-Albanian underclass:

Driving Down Congressman Engel Boulevard, in Kosovo

PEC, Kosovo — …On vacation to visit a friend working in Kosovo, this reporter couldn’t help noticing the pro-American sentiments expressed by an Albanian majority. The Kosovar Albanians are grateful to the United States for spearheading the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999 that resulted in autonomy for the province under United Nations supervision, and for quickly recognizing Kosovo as the world’s newest country after its government declared legal independence[ha!] from Serbia (which had been the de facto reality since 1999) on Feb. 17 of this year. (Many countries within the European Union have also recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia, and its ally, Russia, maintain that the declaration of independence was illegal.) [Actually, international law maintains that the declaration is illegal.]

There are streets in Kosovo named for former President Bill Clinton; Wesley K. Clark, the retired Army general who commanded NATO forces in Europe during the 1999 campaign; and William Walker, the American diplomat who led a peacekeeping mission in 1998 and 1999 that helped draw attention to the plight of Albanians who had been victims of violence. [i.e., Walker was the PR operative for the Albanians’ staged atrocity at Racak which broke the proverbial camel’s back so Clinton could bomb the Serbs.]

Nonetheless, it felt a bit surreal on Sunday, during a visit to Pec (also known as Peja, its Albanian name), a city in western Kosovo, to encounter a main boulevard named for Representative Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester and Rockland Counties.

A giant poster on the side of a building in the center of Pec notes that the street was renamed for Congressman Engel in July 2005. His Bronx district includes many Albanians. Mr. Engel has been a dedicated advocate of Kosovar Albanian autonomy since the mid-1990s….In 1997, Mr. Engel warned that “Kosovo has the potential to be another Bosnia.” In 1998, he urged the White House to attack Serbian positions in Kosovo and impose a no-fly zone for Serbian aircraft.

The makeup of Mr. Engel’s constituency may help explain his advocacy for the province….[So since his CONSTITUENTS support terrorists, Engel does too. Kind of like former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who endorsed Palestinian terror.]

Mr. Engel stopped in Pec for the street dedication during the 2005 trip to the Balkans, where he served as an election monitor in Albanian elections. He was treated like a celebrity.

In an interview by telephone on Thursday night, Mr. Engel, in the United States, spoke of his strong relationship with the people in that region. “I’d been on TV so many times that people on the street in Kosovo recognized me,” he said. “People know me. They know my face.”

He added, with a laugh, “I would like such adulation from my constituents.”

And of course that’s what it’s all about.

In the center of Serb-cleansed Pec is this most literal visual of a giant douchebag, to borrow a “South Park” term:

A giant poster on the side of a building in the center of Pec notes that the street was renamed for Mr. Engel in July 2005.

One of my jokes this election season goes:

Many people, including rapper 50 Cent, have been cynically saying that if Barack Obama becomes president, he’ll probably be killed. Given that most black victims suffer from black-on-black crime, and given that Bill and Hillary Clinton were our first black president, I think Obama knows whom he should watch out for. (Or would that be racially profiling the Clintons?)

Sure enough, Hillary Clinton on Friday defended her staying in the race, baffled by everyone’s urgency for her to quit and “arguing that history showed that some past nominating contests had gone on into June”:

My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary, somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California…

It sounds like the Clintons indeed may have a June surprise in store for Obama and us. It’s like I always say: You think the Secret Service follows the Clintons around for their safety?

On Thursday, another Julia joke became reality. It goes like this: “If Hillary gets into the White House, then the third black president is going to be Chelsea Clinton.” In addition, I ended this video of me as Bill Clinton with the following line:

We still have a long way to go before we see our first black-looking president in the Oval Office. Or eight years, anyway. And when that time does come, whoever the candidate may be, he can count on me and Hillary to be in his corner. Unless, of course, Chelsea is 35 by then.

Sure enough, here was Bill on Thursday:

Former US president Bill Clinton does not rule out the possibility of a third member of his family running for president one day.

Asked in an interview with People magazine, to appear today, whether his 28-year-old daughter Chelsea Clinton would ever consider running for office, the ex-president said: “I don’t know.

“If you asked me this before (January’s Democratic nominating contest in) Iowa, I would have said: ‘No way. She is too allergic to anything we do.’ But she is really good at it.”

Breaking news from Yahoo! yesterday:

“WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. appeals court rules that paper money discriminates against the blind.”

Actually, I always thought that the blind discriminate against paper money. (Fives, ones, twenties, hundreds — “they all look the same!”)

That explains a lot.

Just a folow-up on this blog post, which mentioned that a Kosovo film crew would be coming to Pittsburgh to take some lessons on a successful litter-removal program that has come to the State Department’s attention as it sweats for its demon child in the Balkans:

Kosovo video journalist amazed by volunteer cleanup

Majlinda Bregasi was amazed: Volunteers on a Saturday morning gathered to weed, rake and clean up a small parklet in Pittsburgh’s Mexican War Streets neighborhood.

“In Kosovo, under communism, we had people to do this — but they had no choice,” said Bregasi, a producer and videojournalist for Public Television in her European homeland.

“Here, it’s amazing to see all these people, many young people, volunteering to do this, and they enjoy doing it,” she said.

Bregasi and her film crew picked the best day of the year to see volunteers in the city, Allegheny County and across Pennsylvania come together in neighborhoods, along rivers and streams to pick up, clean up and redd up, all part of the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup program.

On the Allegheny River, John Kelly, owner of Kelly Art Glass in Millvale, said the goal yesterday was to put a dent in the accumulated trash in Millvale and to get younger residents involved in the cleanup.

“Millvale’s charisma seems to happen only when it rains, then all the TV cameras are here,” said Kelly. “But we’re out here busting our butts trying to turn things around.”

Turning things around is the goal of Bregasi of Kosovo. Her film crew will be putting together a one- two- or three-hour documentary showing her homeland what can be done with some initiative.

“I really want to show that if the people want to do something, they can do it,” Bregasi said. “People now let the municipality do it. But to do this, you don’t need money to buy some plastic bags and work gloves.”

Just a comment on this comment by Bregasi:

“In Kosovo, under communism, we had people to do this — but they had no choice.”

What she’s saying here is that communism — a system that is premised on zero faith in humanity’s volition to do what is needed, and on the notion that people must be forced to do what is right — was the only thing keeping Kosovo even minimally functional. Indeed, without communism, Kosovo and Albania today resemble twin trash cans, soon to merge into a single dumpster. Could it be that the iron fist of communism is the best system that can be hoped for, for Greater Albania? That’s what we’re in the deadly, and smelly, process of finding out.

On the surface, these gay people appear to be proud, bold, in your face. But in reality, they are terrified:

State Funded Homosexual Youth Event Encourages Children to Display Homosexual Acts; Fully Endorsed by Massachusetts Governor Includes Grotesque Mockery of Christianity

BOSTON, May 12, 2008 ( The now annual Massachusetts Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Youth Parade was highlighted this year by fully sanctioned participation by a variety of school groups. Children [were] encouraged to display homosexual acts on camera to be posted to the group’s website…Titles of the various pamphlets included the following:

“Reading the Bible with New Eyes” which claims that Jesus had a homosexual affair with Lazarus and that Mary was a lesbian among other grotesque distortions; “Queer Spirituality” which claims that homosexuality can be a means of opening oneself to God; “History of Saints Servius and Bacchus” which claims that the two saints were involved in a homosexual relationship. Several of these pamphlets were handed out by a man dressed as a Catholic priest.

At one point during the event, a guest speaker incited the crowd to violently harass photographers from “Mass Resistance”, the pro-family action group. The photographers were surrounded, barred from taking pictures and then assaulted as a Boston police officer in uniform stood by and watched.

The event was fully sanctioned and funded by the State of Massachusetts through the Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick provided an official proclamation endorsing the event.

Some of the pictures in which children were encouraged to engage in homosexual acts in 2007 can be found on the “Mass Resistance” website….

The fact that it is Christianity — which doesn’t hang gays from the gallows or crush them with walls – that they are taunting is very telling. As is the fact that they haven’t yet taken their act to the Salt Lake American Muslim festival (SLAM) — or to Islamberg in upstate New York. Indeed, try converting these people’s kids to homosexuality/transgenderism:

No wonder these Boston Youth Pride people look like chickens:

Bawk-bawk-bawk-bawk-bawk-bawk-bawk-bawk! Bawk-bawk-bawk-bawk-bawk!

By now, most readers will have caught this Yahoo-featured news item from Sunday:

US soldier removed from Iraq for shooting at Quran

BAGHDAD - An American sniper was removed from Iraq after he used a copy of the Quran for target practice, the military said Sunday, a day after a U.S. commander held a formal ceremony apologizing to Sunni tribal leaders.

The elaborate ceremony — in which one U.S. officer kissed a new copy of Islam’s holy book before giving it to the tribal leaders — reflected the military’s eagerness to stave off anger among Sunni Arabs it has been cultivating as allies.

The tribesmen have become key in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq militants, who depict the American forces as anti-Islamic occupiers. One anti-U.S. Iraqi Sunni group condemned the Quran shooting, calling it “a hideous act.” Similar perceived insults to Islam have triggered protests throughout the Muslim world.

Iraqi police found the bullet-riddled Quran with graffiti inside the cover on a firing range near a police station in Radwaniyah, a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Col. Bill Buckner said.

American commanders launched an inquiry that led to disciplinary action against the unidentified soldier, who has been removed from Iraq, Buckner said.

Sheik Ahmed Khudayer al-Janabi, a local tribal leader, said the group had planned a protest march last Thursday but called it off under pressure from U.S. forces and to prevent any insurgent violence as retaliation.

“I come before you here seeking your forgiveness,” Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond was quoted as saying at the ceremony. “In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.”

“The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior,” he added. “I’ve come to this land to protect you, to support you — not to harm you — and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable.”

The commander also read a letter of apology by the shooter, who has not been identified, while another military official kissed a Quran and presented it to the tribal leaders, according to CNN.

Tribal leaders, dignitaries and local security officials attended the ceremony, while protesters carried banners and chanted slogans, including “Yes, yes to the Quran” and “America out, out.”

The military statement called the incident “serious and deeply troubling” but stressed it was the result of one soldier’s actions and “not representative of the professionalism of our soldiers or the respect they have for all faiths.”

U.S. troops also have struggled to overcome the perception that they are insensitive to Islamic traditions after several missteps in the early stages of the war in Iraq.

Sheik Eid Majid al-Zubaie, the preacher at the Radwaniyah mosque, said local leaders were outraged over the discovery of the Quran, which he said was shot through and had big dark X’s and other graffiti on the pages. But he said they had accepted the military’s apology.

“There is not any difference between this soldier and the figure in Denmark who made the caricature drawings against the Prophet Muhammad,” al-Zubaie said. “But they apologized and expelled the soldier.”

While our military’s submission here isn’t nearly as bad as its use of dainty gloves in handling prisoners’ Korans at Guantanamo Bay — legitimizing our Islamic designation as dhimmis whose filthy hands mustn’t come into contact with the Koran — and while the apologetic behavior of our military in this incident is understandable given the pressures it is under in Iraq, it is as troubling as it is understandable. This incident gives me an excuse to bring up a disturbing Diana West article from December that I’ve been meaning to blog:

Stop treating Sharia-supreme Iraq like post-war Japan

Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates penned an op-ed…to say it’s time to negotiate “a basic framework for normalized relations with the Iraqi government…In addition, we seek to establish a basic framework for a strong relationship with Iraq, reflecting our shared political, economic, cultural and security interests.”

If your next question is, “What ’shared’ political, economic, cultural and security interests?” I second it. The only unanimous expression of Iraqi political will I know of was a parliamentary vote in favor of Hezbollah in its 2006 war with Israel. Economically speaking, Iraq is not only an increasingly enthusiastic OPEC player, it enforces the Arab boycott on Israel. And when it comes to “common” cultural interests, Iraq is…a Sharia-supreme state where one writer was recently found guilty of “blasphemy.” Given the Shiism Iraq shares with nuke-seeking Iran, how many security interests does that leave us in common?

Not that many. Maybe this accounts for the secretaries’ flat tone of understatement regarding a U.S.-Iraq future. It certainly speaks to my own concern that when we finally walk away from “democratic” Iraq, we are unlikely to leave behind a staunch U.S. ally…Writing in the winter 2007-08 issue of The Objective Standard, John David Lewis offers an illuminating analysis of another U.S. occupation, this one thoroughly successful, in Japan (1945-1952). President Bush, of course, frequently refers to the democratization of Japan as a model for the democratization of Iraq (and the wider Islamic Middle East). But, as Lewis’ must-read essay makes historically clear, the president has been comparing apples and oranges.

It isn’t just that the total defeat and utter devastation of Japan nullifies the comparison with Iraq (which it does). There is something else. There is the completely different U.S. approach to Japan’s animating, warlike state religion of Shintoism, which, not incidentally, bears striking similarities to the animating, warlike state religion of Islam.

In 1945, our government was of one mind regarding state Shintoism. Lewis quotes Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who wrote: “Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. … There will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion — National Shinto, that is — will go. … Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto. … The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed.”

And it was, with fabulous results.

Obviously, there have been no analogous U.S. efforts to “de-jihadize” Islamic public culture even as the United States has spent lives, limbs, money and years trying, essentially, to stop the jihad in the Islamic Middle East — not even, to take a manageable example, in the U.S.-funded Palestinian Authority, where state-run media continue to incite Islamically motivated violence against Jews and Americans. And then there are all those U.S.-fostered constitutions that enshrine Sharia law — just the sort of ideological concession our forebears would never have made…

That we are coming to them and not the other way around is evidenced by all of the above, but also by our indulging their “traditions” of hating the Jewish state. I was recently puzzled to learn that “.il” accounts — that is, email addresses ending with a ‘dot-il’ for “Israel” — do not come through to U.S. military accounts in Iraq. A friend working with the U.S. Army in Iraq was trying to make plans to visit with my cousin in Israel, but he was unable to communicate with her using his military account. Asked whether he’d had problems getting other emails, he wrote:

In fact, other e-mails from Israel have not gotten through…The Comcast account is working fine, and I am using it to communicate with people in Israel. But in at least two other instances — one with and one with, plus Vicky’s — messages to the Army account have bounced. Of course, there may have been other messages of which I’m unaware because I never got them. I tend to think it’s a glitch rather than deliberate, but naivite and wishful thinking are two of my faults.

I asked a Jewish Marine friend about it, and he was less suspicious, saying “Military servers have all kinds of blocks. Also Israel could have an issue with .il accounts writing to .mil accounts.”

I also asked Naval College professor and author John Schindler, who replied, “Never heard that about .mil addresses in Iraq, no idea why that would be…DoD systems are notoriously unreliable, this could just be a bad server. Cannot tell you how many emails of mine have gotten lost, bounced back, etc for no apparent reason. On the other hand, DoD also filters out websites deemed ‘extremist’ but which are actually quite normally right wing, if paleocon — so the idea that DoD might be blocking certain .il addresses is not inconceivable.”

If anyone could shed any light as to why communications from Israel are being blocked from U.S. Military email accounts in Iraq, I’m all ears.

Meanwhile — and naturally:

Israeli Doctors Saving Iraqi, Palestinian Children

Holon, Israel ( - When Sarah told her boss in Iraq that she needed an extended break from work to take her child for heart surgery in Israel, he told her, ‘Maybe they’ll kill you.’ But she said she told him, “Why would they give me a visa and offer to operate on my daughter if they were going to kill me?”

Sarah’s (not her real name) seven-month-old daughter is one of more 45 Iraqi children who have been brought to Israel since 2004 for life-saving heart surgery through the Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) program at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, south of Tel Aviv.

Iraq, like most of the Arab world, has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein paid large sums of money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers as an incentive to blow up Israelis in the first years of the Palestinian uprising, which started in 2000. During the 1991 Gulf War, Israel was hit by at least 39 Iraqi Scud missiles.

But that does not matter to SACH. Founded in 1996 by the late Dr. Ami Cohen, an American-born pediatric heart surgeon, SACH has saved the lives of some 1,800 children from 29 countries since its inception, said Executive Director Simon Fisher.

The young patients come from countries such as China, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority areas, SACH says. Most of the children are not Jewish.

“But indirectly, by the fact that we are located in the Middle East…we all feel this responsibility to make that much of an effort for children who are living in…our neighborhood,” he said.

Around 800 of the children who have received treatment are Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Four Palestinian doctors are now training at the center, said Fisher.

Fisher said one of the most frustrating things is the political climate that makes Palestinian doctors reluctant to be seen working next to Israeli doctors in hospitals in eastern Jerusalem.

Dr. Lior Sasson, 47, performs all 200 heart surgeries each year on the children who come through the SACH program.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” Sasson said shortly after completing surgery on a four-year-old Iraqi boy. “What we are doing here is really making a difference because the children that we are taking probably would die sooner or later.”

While such surgeries might be available elsewhere in the Middle East or Africa, financially they are inaccessible to many residents of the region, he said.

Sasson has a unique connection with his Iraqi patients. His parents emigrated from Iraq when they, like other Jews living there decades ago, were forced to flee for their lives because they were Jewish. It’s like “closing a circle” to help the Iraqis, said Sasson.

As a testimony to the close bonds that can develop, Sasson said that during the Israeli-Hizballah war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 — when Israel was being hit by Hizballah missiles — he received a telephone call from the father of one of the Iraqi girls he had operated on, who was anxious to know if he was all right and if the hospital staff had shelters to protect them from the missiles, he said.

As for the Palestinians, Sasson said, he believes that mothers understand and appreciate what has been done for their children and know that Israelis and Palestinians can live together. And when the Israeli doctors save one Palestinian child, they like to think that they have touched an extended family, which often encompasses a whole village, he said.

But that is not always the case.

Egypt — the first Arab country to establish diplomatic ties with Israel in 1979 — refuses to send children here, said Dr. Sion Houri, director of the Pediatric ICU at the Wolfson Medical Center.

“[There are] plenty of Egyptians who are dying at this moment because they are not being treated for congenital heart disease, and we would love to take care of them…but there is an incredible barrier,” Houri said. He attributed the reluctance at least in part to anti-Semitism.

There was one case in which an Egyptian child was set to receive treatment here, but when the parents understood where the child was to be treated, they said they would rather see the child die than receive treatment in Israel, said Houri.

The cost of treating each child is $10,000 — $7,000 of which is paid to the Wolfson Medical Center, $2,000 for housing the children and transportation, and the rest for overhead and administrative costs, said Fisher. SACH foots most, if not all, of the bill.

The children from Iraq are brought to Israel via Jordan by a Christian organization called Shevet Achim (Light to the Nations), founded by an American Christian, Jonathan Miles, in 1994. The group, which also brings children from Gaza, contributes about a third of the expenses for the children it handles.

During their stay before and after treatment, the children (including the Iraqi children), who are sometimes accompanied by a parent and sometimes by an escort from their country, are housed in a home not far from the hospital. All their needs are provided for there.

Sarah told Cybercast News Service that her little girl was much better following her first surgery. (She has since undergone a second successful operation.)

The doctors took very good care of her daughter — like she was an Israeli, said Sarah. She said she feels like she’s at home here — only in her country, no one gave her the financial help she needed for her daughter’s life-saving surgery, she said.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2007: Kosovo

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continued to monitor suspected terrorist activity with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG). Officials believed that a few of the more than 400 NGOs operating in Kosovo were involved in suspicious activities, and sought to prevent extremists from using NGOs to gain a foothold in Kosovo. Consequently, municipalities authorized NGO use of public facilities for religious gatherings only if the relevant religious community consented.

The Kosovo Police Service (KPS) and UNMIK Police Counterterrorism Units (CTUs) were primarily responsible for Kosovo’s counterterrorism efforts, but were small and lacked resources…Porous boundary lines that were easily crossed by individuals trafficking in people, weapons, and narcotics hampered Kosovo’s counterterrorism efforts. The Kosovo border police service lacked basic equipment, and only had a mandate to patrol the green border (areas that lack official, manned border, or administrative boundary line gates) from two to three kilometers beyond the actual border and boundary lines. NATO-KFOR roving teams patrolled the green border right up to the actual border and administrative boundary lines, but numerous passable roads and trails that lead to Kosovo lack border or boundary gates. Moreover, poorly paid border and customs officials were susceptible to corruption.

Witness intimidation was also an obstacle to combating terrorism in Kosovo. UNMIK’s Department of Justice reported that it created a Witness Protection Task Force to address this issue. The Task Force reportedly worked on constructing a new safe house in Kosovo….According to the UNMIK Department of Justice (DOJ), there were three terrorism-related convictions, and seven terrorism cases underway with local judges and prosecutors. International prosecutors and the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office (KSPO) also initiated four terrorism-related investigations and filed two indictments, which were pending confirmation at year’s end. One of the indictments was related to Albanian National Army (AKSH) activity, and one of the investigations involved the Front for Albanian National Unification (FBKSH), the AKSH’s political wing.

The AKSH, which UNMIK designated as a terrorist organization in 2003, continued to intimidate Kosovo citizens. In June, its Tirana-based spokesman, Gafurr Adili, told Kosovo media that AKSH members in several Kosovo towns had distributed leaflets threatening violence if the Serbian paramilitary group Tsar Lazar Guard ventured into Kosovo for the annual June 28th commemoration of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo. Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) war veteran leader Abdyl Mushkolaj also made similar threats, adding to concerns over the commemoration. As a result, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) issued an executive decision prohibiting the Tsar Lazar Guard or any paramilitary group from carrying out activities in Kosovo. The commemoration passed without incident.

In an October interview on Radio Television Kosovo (RTK), heavily armed, masked individuals in black uniforms bearing the AKSH insignia appeared from an undisclosed location described as an AKSH training facility near the administrative boundary line with Serbia…AKSH had long claimed to operate only in areas outside of KFOR or Kosovo Protection Corps control, and was reportedly also active in southern Serbia and western Macedonia.

I realize Kazakhstan is still just reawakening to its Islamic heritage after a long Communist slumber, but someone is really, really missing the Islamic point here during Fashion Week in Kazakhstan. See if you can figure out the discrepancy:

For Russified Muslim chicks who can’t decide whether they want to be pious or prostitutes, there’s Kazakhstan.

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